Title: While Paris Slept
Author: Ruth Druart
Length: 512 pages
Synopsis: Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door. Paris 1944. A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.
I’ve read a lot of historical fiction in my time as I love the genre and While Paris Slept is one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve read in a while.
We start off with Jean-Luc and Charlotte in America in 1955 and when the police show up to question Jean-Luc about something in the past you are immediately intrigued. I knew then I was hooked within the first 20 pages.
There was also a twist that I did not see coming that shocked me and I knew I needed answers. And it’s one of those books where the answer didn’t disappoint me, it actually exceeded me expectations. Don’t we love it when books do that?
I really enjoyed the dual timelines, with the other half of the book being set in 1944. It was so interesting and heartbreaking to see how all the characters ended up where they are. As we switch between the timeline each one ended on a cliffhanger and made it impossible for me to put this book down.
Now I like my historical fiction to be detailed and intricate and I can gladly say that While Paris Slept is both of these things. It’s the little details that make it atmospheric and believable. It also shows the cruelty and hardship of war. It’s a big book that you can really get emotionally involved in and you’ll absolutely fly through it.
Ruth has created such fantastic characters that it makes the perfect blend of historical details and emotion. They all go on such emotional journeys that you grow to care for all the characters so much. There’s a sweet romance that survives against all odds between characters and familial heartbreak that will break your heart. The while book has such my heart in it.
Here’s what I think is really special about this book and makes it stand out from other historical fiction is how it deals with Sam, the child in the novel. I’m going to try and talk about this without giving any spoilers because I want you to read it for yourself. It was incredibly powerful and heartbreaking to see how the events have a psychological on him. I couldn’t decide what was best for him and Ruth captures perfectly the emotion and complexity of the situation.
Also the ending made me cry. It was such a build up of emotion that I couldn’t help it. When you read it you’ll see what I mean. That’s all I’ll say as I don’t want to spoil it for you.
This is Ruth’s debut novel and I think it’s brilliant. It’s such a strong, emotive debut that I can’t recommend enough for you all to read. This is a book I won’t forget for a long time. I’m already looking forward to what Ruth will do next. I’ll be picking it up for sure.
Thank you to Louise at Headline books for my gifting me copy of While Paris Slept in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out March 4th
Until the next review